To the statement in our title we might say, “Duh!” Is this news?
To some it apparently is. The quote was the headline of an article in a local newspaper a few years ago. The director of a local social organization said, “There is a lot of research and studies that show healthy marriages are an indicator of children doing better.” She also said, “We are not saying marriage. We are saying healthy marriages.” The group’s concern was the increase in teenage motherhood, the divorce rate, and families living in poverty.
The increase in teenage motherhood (no doubt unmarried teens) is indeed a concern for the Christian, beginning with the fact that sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. It doesn’t appear that too many are concerned about that any more in our society.
The divorce rate is another concern of Christians, not only because of the social consequences but first of all because breaking a marriage is in principle a rejection of God’s will concerning marriage, established already in the Garden of Eden when God said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:8). From the rib of Adam God made a woman “and brought her unto the man” (2:22). The woman was compatible to Adam in every way—spiritually, emotionally, socially, and sexually. In the Garden God declared—and Jesus reiterated (Matthew 19:4-6)—that marriage is meant to be the lifelong union of one man and one woman so long as both shall live.
The perversion of homosexuality/lesbianism is a rejection of God’s will and order and shall reap its own reward to the detriment of society, as well as eternal judgment for those who die in unrepented sin. We pray that God in His grace will turn such individuals around in repentance, finding Jesus as God’s solution to their needs.
We surely agree that healthy marriages are essential to addressing and alleviating social ills. But healthy marriages are not in themselves the answer to social ills since apparently healthy marriages have also produced unhappy results. We live in a sinful world!
So what is a healthy marriage?
A healthy marriage is more than a materially successful union. It is more than being highly thought of and being a pillar of society. It is more than just getting along. A healthy marriage is one in which the foundation of the marriage and the home is Christ, and where father, mother, and children have respect for the Word of God.
A healthy marriage revolves around the Lord Jesus Christ as the focus of the family. Members of the family worship at the cross together in confession of their sin, and with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who has taken away the penalties of their sin.
A healthy marriage is one in which husband and wife, and by their example the children, understand their responsibilities within their divinely assigned sphere. It manifests itself in mutual love and concern for one another with the common goal of seeking to glorify the Lord.
Essential to a healthy marriage and then to a functioning Christian family is “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21), and forgiving one another even as God has in Christ forgiven each of them (Ephesians 4:32).
A marriage where there is an understanding of God’s holy law and the gospel and where each is properly applied is one in which children will flourish because husband and wife will share with their children the parameters of right and wrong,
as well as the grace of forgiveness
that is in Jesus.
Where children see that matters of faith are as important to father and mother as father and mother make them for the children, a bond will grow within the family.
Strong marriages established upon the sure and merciful Word of God are more than a key to social ills—they are essential to the spiritual life and welfare of everyone in the family; and indeed, without spiritual life grounded and rooted in Christ, social ills will continue to grow!
We are always amazed when society arrives at a conclusion which Christ-believers have always known. But then we are not too hopeful that much will change. In regard to every area of Christian sanctification and certainly in regard to marriage, our generation does well to heed the Lord who said through the prophet Jeremiah, “Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; then the Lord will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you” (Jeremiah 26:13).
Hear the Word of the Lord: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night; he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper”
That is the Heavenly Father’s word to His children. He will bless in every way, including with a “healthy marriage,” those who hear and practice what the Lord says. “Let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence [respect] her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).